Great wines under $10, Italy, Red wine, Sangiovese, Tuscany

Donna Laura Ali Sangiovese 2007

Winemaker: Marco Camarri
Grapes: 100% Sangiovese
Region: Tuscany, Italy

This lovely wine is composed of two different clones of Sangiovese (50% of each), from Lia Tolaini-Banville’s hillside vineyards. One of the clones gives wine the structure, the other one contributes vibrant fruit qualities.

It was Lia’s and her winemaker Marco’s passion to deliver wine that shows the true taste of Sangiovese and its terroire and they achieved it with all three of their wines: Bramosia, Alteo and Ali.

Donna Laura Ali, named by Lia’s daughter, is pure Sangiovese, vinified and aged for 1 year exclusively in stainless steel. It preserves bright fruit character of their high quality Sangiovese clones. This wine develops dark color tones and silky tannins even without oak support.

Very classic, beautiful label is a detail of Cupid from the original artwork for the Bramosia Chianti Classico, label by Rik Olsen. Donna Laura Ali could be easily considered as a best value wine from this wine region.

Tasting notes:
Ali is a refreshing, dark ruby wine. The body seems light without heavy oak tannins, but the flavor and aroma is definitely not locking. On the nose you will get hints of ripe cherries, raspberries and herbs. Very fruity and juicy with balanced acidity and silky tannins makes it easy to drink as well as versatile at the dinner table. The flavors develop intensity as the wine opens up.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 10.00

Ideal food pairing:
Pasta, grilled meats, rotisserie chicken, risotto, grilled salmon and many more

All recipes paired with wine, Poultry

Chicken thighs in mushroom gravy

This recipe is our family’s favorite. Easy to make, inexpensive and very, very tasty! If you like mushrooms, of course. They really make this dish. Sometimes I add half a spoon of dried wild mushrooms just to boost the flavor even more. You can use dried porcini, if you want to try that. Add directly to the sauce with the rest of fresh mushrooms. No need to pre-soak it.

Chicken thighs in mushroom gravy

2 lb of chicken thighs without the bone (I buy the multi-packs in Costco, freeze the rest)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
1 cup of dry white wine
2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme)
1 cup shiitake slices
1 cup of sliced mushrooms

Heat oil and butter in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add onion to the pan. Cook over medium heat and stir until onion is soft. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add chicken pieces and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add chopped mushrooms, thyme and wine. Cook until liquid is almost reduced. Add broth and bring back to a boil.

Add more broth if needed (the sauce is so good, you might want to add more). Cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer until meat is no longer pink (about 45 minutes). Garnish with parsley. Remove thyme sprigs if you used fresh thyme. Stir in fresh parsley and serve over rice, pasta or couscous.

Wine pairing suggestions:
I have paired this dish with Buena Vista Pinot Noir. It worked great, since the rich mushroom taste lifted the flavors in the wine. My second, (and less expensive choice) was Italian Sangiovese called Donna Laura Ali from legendary Chianti region.

Very light in body, yet rich in flavor, Ali was a great compliment to this dish as well. If you prefer white, I would reach for some heavier, buttery Chardonnay to pair our today’s dish with.